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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Asymco analyst Horace Dediu this week shared new research that focuses on determining the average lifespan of Apple devices. Dediu's research doesn't break down data on a specific product level, but instead encompasses Apple's entire stable of products in one general lifespan average. According to Dediu's proposal, if you use the number of active devices and cumulative devices sold, you can get to the average lifespan (via The Next Web).


Dediu's research on this topic was propelled forward when Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the total number of active Apple devices -- 1.3 billion worldwide -- during the company's most recent earnings call. Now, the analyst proposed that to determine the average lifespan, you can subtract the known active devices number from cumulative devices sold to determine "cumulative retired devices."

Dediu then said that to estimate the average lifespan, you calculate the time between "cumulative devices sold" at the beginning of a product's lifespan, and the current "cumulative retired devices." He ultimately determined that the average Apple device lifespan is about 4 years and three months, when looking at the data of Apple products sold in Q2 2013 and retired in Q4 2017, a time when the 2013 devices died or otherwise stopped working and their owners sought to purchase new versions.


Dediu gave a detailed breakdown of his calculations:
Here's how to compute this yourself: Visually, the lifespan is the distance horizontally between the two vertical bars such that the bars are the same length. The top vertical bar measures the gap between the area (cumulative devices) and the curve (active devices) and the lower bar is the gap between the area and the x-axis, i.e. the cumulative devices. When those two bars are the same size the distance between them is the lifespan (at the time of the top bar.)

Arithmetically, the average lifespan at a given time t is the duration between t and the moment when the cumulative devices sold reached the cumulative retired devices at time t.

For example today-as the visual above represents-the lifespan is the time since cumulative devices sold reached the current total retired devices. The cumulative retired devices can be calculated as 2.05 billion cumulative sold minus 1.3 billion active or 750 million. The time when cumulative devices sold reached 750 million was the third quarter 2013. The lifespan is thus estimated at the time between now and Q3 2013 or 17 quarters or about 4 years and three months.
He noted that cumulative devices sold for Apple includes Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and the iPod touch, although of course the lifespan average number is just that -- an average -- and doesn't perfectly apply to each individual product. Just over four years is likely in the ballpark for how long Mac users keep around their computers, but if looked at on a product-by-product basis that statistic would likely be different for iPhone and Apple Watch owners.

For more details on the topic, check out Dediu's full post on

Article Link: Average Apple Device Lifespan Estimated at Just Over Four Years by Analyst


macrumors regular
Jul 21, 2011
Speaking for myself, when a Mac is no longer supported by the latest MacOS it gets Linux put on it, and may then "enjoy" a pretty long second life, or semi-retirement maybe, as a small server. But presumably would not then count as "active".

Although having said that I can't even get latest-Ubuntu on my 1st gen Mac Mini any more :-( Other linuxes may be possible but I think honestly it's gone beyond my ability to care enough to do it, when it's slower than the raspberry pi i now have doing those sorts of jobs.

Doesn't apply to iOS devices of course.


macrumors 68040
Jul 16, 2014
My iPhone 4, bought in August 2010, is now in a drawer but after I used it I passed to my father, then my mother until fall 2017, so about 7 years. She's now using my old iPhone 5 bought in 2013, so about 5 years ago.
The life span of a Mac is much longer, my in laws are using my old mid 2009 MBP and my aunt is using my mid 2012 MBA. I'd say a Mac can have at least 10 years of life before becoming almost useless.


macrumors regular
My Mac 2012 Mini is faster today, than it was when released. Futher, it's faster than the newest Mini Apple sells.
I simply went to Amazon and upgraded the RAM to 16 Gb, then added a SSD drive.
Pity, the new Macs all solder down the ram, and make it such that you can't do "upgrades" to your Mac. Until this changes, I'll just stick with the oldies (but goodies).


macrumors G3
Jan 26, 2008
Isla Nublar
Sorry but I gotta call BS on this article. I know this is anecdotal but I have yet to see a Mac last less than 6 years, most are 8+.

Not only have mine all lasted well to the 10 year mark, but my parents Macs have lasted at least 8 years. as have my friends, the offices I used to support in my IT days, and my current work Macs (one is 11 years old).

iPads and iPhones are going to obviously have less life because mobile technology today is where computers were in the 90s, lots of advancements really quickly so of course those will have less of a lifespan.

now i see it

macrumors G4
Jan 2, 2002
Apple knows exactly how many of its devices are still in use (if they connect to the internet). I can't see the point of this research. Seems like a total waste of time.

Thomas Harte

macrumors 6502
Nov 30, 2005
Such as I can recall:
  • my 2001 PowerBook died somewhere around 2007 due to some sort of power issue;
  • my 2006 MacBook Pro was still running flawlessly when retired in 2010;
  • my 2010 iMac ceased to be in my possession in 2012 but is still running flawlessly such as I'm aware;
  • a work 2012 MacBook Pro suffered a logic board failure in 2012;
  • my 2011 MacBook Air is still running flawlessly;
  • my 2015 Retina MacBook appears to be in the process of suffering a logic board failure;
  • a work 2015 MacBook Pro was still working when I left that firm despite having been dropped down a flight of stairs;
  • my first-generation and fourth-generaion iPods still work fine (though the battery life on the former is down to only about an hour);
  • my iPad 1 and iPad 3 still work perfectly well in hardware terms;
  • my iPad 4 suffered a logic board failure back in 2015 or 2016;
  • I have never had an iPhone fail on me, but they've all been provided by work so I've tended not to keep them for as long — I've had every one from the 3G through to the 6s;
  • I have had various iMacs at work, usually each for a couple of years or so, and none has ever failed.
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macrumors regular
This explains the lack of a new mac mini. My 2012 machine is going to push the averages up as there is no realistic upgrade path. Well played Apple.
If you haven't swapped out the Apple RAM (4 or 8 GB) for a pair of 8GB RAM, I strongly urge you to do so. The performance bump (especially on the i7) is remarkable. Adding SSD drives is a 45 minute and delicate process; but the reward is so worth it. After you finish, no new Mac mini will touch your 2012 box.


macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2014
I've never understood why people need to upgrade their phone and everything every damn year. I've used every Apple product I've ever bought for at least four years before I replaced it, mostly longer. There was just no need to replace.


macrumors 604
Mar 3, 2010
I've never understood why people need to upgrade their phone and everything every damn year. I've used every Apple product I've ever bought for at least four years before I replaced it, mostly longer. There was just no need to replace.

They don’t need. They want.
And if they have worked all year long with honesty and integrity, they have all the rights to spend their money how they see fit. Some people spend on cars, other on phones, others on clothing etc.
Last edited by a moderator:


macrumors 6502
Dec 1, 2012
Ok, so this is an average across all products, but we will soon be getting to the point where this 'lifetime' is shorter than the time since the last refresh of the headless desktops :rolleyes:


macrumors G5
Aug 10, 2007
I'm a rolling stone.
To be honest, I don't believe the ~4 years, all of my Apple stuff lasts (much) longer, my first Mac (a Pismo) lasted 8 years but it was heavily used in the tropics, was a beast at that time.


macrumors 65816
Dec 7, 2010
I normally reckon 3.5 Years for an iphone, unless you want to have something that just annoys you.

My my 2005 G4 Powerbook, 2008 Mac Pro, 2012 iPad 4 and 2012 Macbook pro disagree with this guy's findings.
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